Monday, November 15, 2021

Maude's Mom


It may have been a stash of family photographs found in a local antique shop which prompted me to tell the story of their previous owner, Marilyn Sowle Bean, but it was the tragic legacy bequeathed upon Marilyn's husband, brother-in-law and, eventually, her own son which has me searching through Marilyn's mother-in-law's family tree.

Maude Woodworth Bean apparently was a carrier of a once-deadly disease known as Marfan Syndrome, the cause of the untimely deaths of the men in the Bean family. Prompted by that—plus the serendipitous discovery of those family pictures—I've been trawling through the Bean pedigree to see if I could pinpoint which branch of the family might have contributed the unfortunate tendency.

We've already explored the paternal Bean family briefly, but having discovered the same malady in the descendants of Maude's brother's family, we've lately been seeking signs in Maude's own Woodworth family. Though over a century ago there were some childhood deaths on the Woodworth side, there certainly were also some long-lived relatives, as well. But what about Maude's mom? We need to explore that branch of Maude's story, as well.

It was thanks to Maude's father's obituary—a personal history encased within a funeral announcement—that we can glean the timeline of when William Woodworth married his wife. Though as a teenager, William had moved to southern California with his parents, Lafayette and Eliza Smith Woodworth, he did not forget the sweetheart he had left behind in Sioux City, Iowa. He returned there to marry her on October 27, 1890, and bring her home with him to Covina, California.

From the actual record of their marriage, we learn that William's bride—eventually, Maude's mother—was named Effie A. Williams. Though I've been able, from other family records, to determine that the middle initial "A" stood for Aurilla, I have yet to discover any other first name than what seems to be more nickname than formal given name.

According to the Sioux City marriage record, Effie was twenty years of age at her wedding, having said her nuptial vows on the same day as her birthday. However, from other records, it looks like she was actually nineteen at the point when she said "I do."

There was another discrepancy on the marriage register in Sioux City which caused a bit more research difficulty than the year of Effie's birth. Her father's name—Eugene—might have been clearly inscribed in the register, but her mother's maiden name looked like Elizabeth Ferrard. Or was it Ferrara?

Elizabeth it may have been—we can see that thirty years later in Elizabeth's own obituary. Unfortunately, though Mrs. Williams' obituary named her pallbearers and even the names of the soloists rendering her favorite hymns at the funeral, not one mention was made of the deceased's survivors, other than the daughter—"Mrs. W. C. Woodworth"—in whose home she had passed. It took quite a bit of exploration to realize that neither Ferrard nor Ferrara was her actual maiden name.

To explore the possibility that Marfan Syndrome may have made its appearance in Effie's family, rather than Maude's paternal Woodworth line, of course we don't need to start with her mother's pedigree. We can search first among the Williams kin. That will buy me more time to explore the possibilities for Elizabeth's maiden name. In the meantime, we'll examine what we can find on the paternal side of Maude's mother's family.


Above: Inset from register of marriages from Woodbury County, Iowa, showing the October 1890 entry representing Effie A. Williams, bride of William Woodworth; courtesy


  1. Following anxiously. Such a sad and devastating disease.

    1. It can be devastating, Miss Merry--although thankfully, much progress has been made in treatment in the last few decades.


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